Latest Navajo Nation donation drive underway

GRAND JUNCTION, CO – On August 25, Teri Roth and Tim Krol, a Loma couple who collected two large vehicles’ worth of donated supplies for the Covid-stricken Navajo Nation early last month, will be making their third visit to the reservation to deliver additional supplies, including school supplies. The Downtown Vineyard Church will be hosting a donation collection in their parking lot on Sunday, August 16.

Recently, the couple had delivered school supplies for middle and high school students during a more recent trip. Previously, they’d delivered supplies for elementary school students, so “this time they’re all set,” Roth said.

Kral also brought Jack, Lucy’s husband, some tools during the most recent trip to the reservation, while Roth included some vegetables they’d grown in their garden. Lucy, a Navajo woman whom the couple had met during a summer trip to Silverton and who had originally shared with them the struggles of the Navajo Nation’s residents during the lockdown, told the couple that “it’s been months since we had anything from the earth.”

The Navajo Nation continues to face a severe water shortage, due in large part to the US government’s refusal to include the sovereign nation in the 1922 Colorado River Compact, which determines the allocation of water rights to individual states. It’s estimated that only 1 out of 3 Navajo have access to indoor plumbing. Recent legislation introduced by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT). the Navajo Utah Water Rights Settlement Act, aims to rectify that by providing the Navajo Nation access to water rights in Utah.

Legislation takes time, however, especially in the age of Covid lockdowns and physical distancing restrictions. In the meantime, the lack of water, travel restrictions that prevent residents from leaving the reservation and non-residents from coming in, in addition to strict, reservation-wide curfews, mean that even relatively small humanitarian missions like that of Krol and Roth have tremendous impact on devastated families.

“We asked Lucy [during the first trip] how many families did this take. The first load [benefited] about 26 families,” Roth said. “So we thought the second load would impact about 50 families.”

Roth and Kral learned, however, that a “family” or household in the Navajo Nation can have up to two or three generations, or an entire extended family, living under one roof. Fifty families can mean a total of about 500 individuals benefited from the couple’s second trip.

The couple have been astounded and touched by the generosity of donors who have continued to send them supplies, many of them shipped directly to their home from Amazon.

“People have been sending Amazon shipments to us. And then we take them down [to the reservation],” Roth said. The supplies have included everything from “coffee, cough drops, Vicks, Clorox, canned goods, and Airborne.”

“Some lady told us that she’ll be sending us rice, so that’s coming through Amazon.”

A few of Roth’s former coworkers, all retired now from the Grand Junction Regional Center, have been sewing fleece blankets to distribute to the children and elders.

Roth and Kral have also received monetary donations, and they’re quick to confirm that the money goes directly to purchasing supplies.

“The money we get, it all goes back into the kitty to buy more supplies,” Kral said. “There’s no overhead costs!”

With the donations pouring in, Kral and Roth joke that “our house looked like a warehouse last time.”

The couple encourage potential donors to drop off donations during the collection drive at the Downtown Vineyard Church on the morning of the 16th. If anyone wants to donate after that, the couple needs to receive them by August 23 to give them time to inventory, organize, and load them onto their vehicles.

The following supplies are most needed and can be dropped off at the Downtown Vineyard Church, 402 Grand Ave, Grand Junction, CO 81501, on Sunday, August 16, from 8:30 am until 12:00 noon.

  1. Disinfecting wipes
  2. Disinfecting spray
  3. Clorox
  4. Exam gloves (sizes medium and large)
  5. Toilet paper
  6. Kleenex
  7. Hand sanitizer
  8. Antibacterial hand soap
  9. Baggies (quart and gallon size)
  10. Airborne
  11. Cough drops
  12. Alka-Seltzer
  13. Vicks or equivalent
  14. Ben Gay or equivalent
  15. Fly ribbon
  16. Fly spray
  17. Toothpaste
  18. Hair bands
  19. Bottled water
  20. Salt
  21. Baking powder
  22. Regular or decaffeinated coffee (no flavors please)
  23. Flour
  24. Spam
  25. Potatoes (not too early please)
  26. Solar flash lights
  27. Flash lights
  28. Canned goods, i.e., vegetables, etc.
  29. Hoodies for children, ages 7 to 10, sizes small, medium and large
  30. Hoodies for adult: sizes small, medium, large, extra large